Being diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) can be a rush of emotions. You may feel relieved to know the cause of your breathing problems and feel highly confused all at once. After all, this may be the first time you’ve even heard of COPD.
Whatever your emotions upon learning your diagnosis, you may notice your stress levels increasing while living with COPD. According to “Coping With Your Chronic Disease” published by the COPD Foundation, “We feel stress when what we need to do feels bigger than our ability to do these things.”
Stress affects us both physically and emotionally. Your emotional response to COPD stress may be similar to the emotions you feel at the loss of a job or a death in the family. This known set of emotions related to a loss is known as the “grieving process.” And while this sounds melancholy, understanding your stress, especially your emotional stress, can help you better cope with COPD, leading to a happy and healthy life.
So what can you expect when going through the “grieving process”? According to “Coping With Your Chronic Disease,” the grieving emotions include:
- Denial: Learning you have a chronic disease is shocking. You may want to get a second opinion because you believe your doctor’s diagnosis was incorrect. You may even begin avoiding your family and friends. It’s okay to want time alone after learning you have COPD; just make sure you let your friends and family know you need this time.
- Anger: It’s normal to be angry about a diagnosis like COPD. You can be angry at your doctors or be angry that there is no cure. You may even be angry with yourself for smoking. It’s important to find a healthy way to vent your anger. Confide in your pastor or a friend or write your feelings in a journal. Your doctor may even recommend a new exercise regime using portable oxygen concentrators.
- Bargaining: During this “grieving process” stage, your guilt and regret will cause you to try to make up for past mistakes. This stage can be positive because it can help you review what is really important to you, allowing you to make changes accordingly.
- Sadness and Depression: Everyone can feel sad or depressed from time to time, but feeling constantly depressed can make you weak and tired, affecting your ability to live a happy and healthy life with COPD. To help cope with sadness and depression, begin to think on how COPD will change your life and role in the family. After thinking on these issues, you can begin to better prepare for living with COPD.
For tips on how to best manage stress, check out the post “Stress Management Tips Help Manage COPD.” For more help understanding the grieving emotions associated with your COPD diagnosis, contact your physician.